Building your own home: Catching Mistakes

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I imagine there are ups and downs to all of homeownership. Constant work that needs to done regardless of the age of your home, can be expensive and downright frustrating. When we were building our home, we definitely had our fair share of ups and downs and a lot of emotional moments. Dealing with a stubborn contractor, lazy work, mistakes, SCRATCHES ALL OVER...normal stuff that a lot of people go through. We generally didn't discuss it with others, so everyone thought our experience was peachy keen with a gumdrop or two on top. YEAH NOPE.

I asked for some advice from friends in our neighborhood who suggested we check almost daily on the progress of our home. Generally, we would head over 3-4 times a week. Sometimes it was just driving by when I was alone with Jack, but other times, when Jon was home, we would actually go inside and inspect. Don't worry about seeming like a pest, it is your house after all! This way, you can spot mistakes or things you want to change before they become permanent. 

There were a few mistakes or downright lazy work that we caught and had corrected.

#1) Stairs: We told our Contractor that we wanted white columns for the main post, stained bannisters and white spindles. That didn't happen and we were nervous that it was something we couldn't fix or would cost us money out of our pocket to fix. Thankfully, (at this point) our contractor was totally fine with sanding the main column and painting it. We much prefer the look of the white contrasting with the stained bannisters and steps.
#2) Countertops: One of my favorite days during the whole process, was going to select our counter tops. (I will do another post on the benefits and downright annoyances of Carrera Marble, but we will leave that for another day!) We worked with a gentleman named Bill, who helped us out and answered every question and concern that we had. Bill also gave us the curved marble on our coffee bar for FREE. We will always send friends to work with Bill. He really took care of us.
The problem didn't lie with Bill or the choices we made. What happened was during instillation. As we were touring with our contractor and amazing real estate agent, Anne (email me if you are in MA and looking for a real estate agent, we have the perfect one for you!). I was walking around the kitchen when I noticed one ugly sight (I'm not being a diva...everyone has said they would also be upset) Sorry for the terrible pictures. BUT LOOK. LOOK WITH YOUR EYES. WHAT THE HECK IS THAT? It looks like Jack took toothpaste and smeared it all over the marble and window. It was, in fact, an adult who thought this was ok. This is the window in front of our sink. At this moment in time, I had already been a little upset seeing some lazy work in the living room, but left it to Jon and Anne to do the talking. Not this time. No way, Jose. I told our contractor it was unacceptable and straight up sloppy. For some reason, he said it was NORMAL.

 Not normal for me. Or anyone else with eyes. Eventually, after a lot of emailing back and forth, he agreed to "fix" it (it barely looks any different, so we put out Owl statues in front of it to hide it) so we could live with it.
But if you are PAYING them to install counter tops, they better be doing a darn good job. As long as you're not paying them with twinkies and pieces of hair. Than you can expect that rubbish above.

#3) Fireplace: The same day we were taking the "progress tour" we noticed our pebble back splash was less than pretty. It wasn't clipped properly and the pebbles were a mess with grout missing in some places. 

We wanted a clean, smooth look, covering the black parts of the fireplace. My OCD was going NUTS. One of the first few days that we moved in, a gentleman came in and fixed it for us and did a WONDERFUL job. Here is the after as it is today..clean edges and a smooth finish:
#4) Woodwork (all over): One major issue was how our woodwork (trim, shelves, stairs, etc) were treated. There were a lot of dents, wonky angles and scratches. This we barely made any progress with our contractor, and figured we would just update it ourselves, except for the weird gaps that were throughout. 
I mean...

 Totally even...

With a lot of "this is standard" excuses from the contractor, we were not all. Again, the majority was fixed. But to say it was not frustrating to almost have to hand-hold and argue over issues like this was beyond annoying.

There were a few more issues we had, but these were the main ones. Also, expect delays. It is inevitable and sometimes not the contractors fault. Also, we still had issues once we were totally moved in, you can see that post here. We made sure we had all repairs done in the time-frame of our year long warranty where they would fix any issues for free. There was a leak from our tub that led to water damage in our dining room ceiling, our vent above the range started RAINING inside...and a few others!

So, to summarize:
  • Stay on top of Contractors and those who are working in your home. Don't feel like a pest, this is your house that you are putting your hard earned money into. It better be done and done well!
  • Expect mistakes and lazy work, but never settle. Don't let it slip by. Make sure everything is fixed and nothing comes out of your pocket. Jon had his Uncle come by to also inspect the work and get another opinion and he agreed with us. Our Real Estate agent helped as well since it was our first time buying a home. That and Jon is the kind of guy who doesn't take bologna when he knows something is wrong.
  • Expect delays but stay on top of the work and contracts. It may feel like you are babysitting, but it is necessary to have a relatively smooth experience.
  • Try your hardest to get a year (maybe even more!) long warranty to cover costs of mistakes or any issues that arise when you're in your home.

So has anyone else had fun contractor issues? My girlfriend Jenni had four contractors quit during her build!

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